CD Reviews: Japandroids and Jukebox the Ghost
The Vancouver indierock duo of singer/guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse was on the verge of calling it quits when their 2009 debut "Post-Nothing" caught fire, earning accolades with its wide-eyed, pulse-raising paeans to youth.
It was a boon to the band, but following such anthemic awesomeness is fraught: how do two adult men continue to write rock songs about torrid teenage urges without sounding like rock 'n' roll fantasy campers? Answer: don't fake it.
From the firework pops and gleeful nihilism of opener "The Nights of Wine and Roses," "Celebration Rock" is a winner. King and Prowse howl convincingly of an eternal future; of heading west; of hearts accelerating and colliding like supercharged particles on a damp summer night.
Like its predecessor, "Rock" is a lean, vital rock record with a joyous, "American Girl"-bred spirit. But there is a certain melancholy turn to tracks like "Younger Us," originally released in '10, where the band pushes past their former selves to arrive at a point where the remembered ache of adolescent bones transcends the personal to get at some overarching truth about the promise of life, and how it's forever waiting to be fulfilled.
JUKEBOX THE GHOST
Ambitious pop is a tough row to hoe; it's tempting to always push further, to layer, to complicate. But when bombast and smarts strike a balance, as evidenced by acts like fun. and MGMT, its always feels like its been too long since someone figured it out. With their third LP, there's no reason NYC imports Jukebox the Ghost can't join those names in the upper ranks of studied pop pleasure. Most bands rely on one decent vocalist to carry the load, but JTG has two talented ones in pianist Ben Thornewill and guitarist Tommy Siegel. The group's melodic fixation is clear from the intricate structures of standouts "Somebody" and "Oh, Emily," and also "Don't Let Me Fall Behind," which makes clear that the lads likely thinks Billy Joel is tops.